Anyone who knows Kimber Russell knows she wears many hats. From principal owner of 1 Percent Consulting, adjunct faculty for College of Western Idaho, commissioner for Serve Idaho, and board of trustees president for Habitat (not counting mom and wife), Kimber is a stark advocate of affordable housing in the Treasure Valley. But as a young professional under 40, Kimber defines the new age of Habitat and the introduction of a different kind of donor to the organization.
“For those of us that aren't as affluent and don't have the ability to make large gifts, it really makes sense for us to give as much as we can on a monthly basis,” said Kimber. “My $10, $15, or $20 a month donation to different organizations still adds up to a pretty significant contribution based off of my wallet and what I have available.”
Joining the board of trustees in 2019, Kimber’s term focus grew from an interest in the intersection between affordable housing and anti-poverty initiatives.
“I've always been a really big proponent of affordable housing,” said Kimber. “I grew up pretty systemically poor and so anything that really leans into anti-poverty work and getting people the resources that they need to live fulfilled lives is really important to me.”
As a young professional, Kimber challenges the notion that value to a nonprofit can be found only in large financial contributions. Like many others, where treasure may be lacking, time and talent are easily supplied. Leaning into her skillset, Kimber capitalizes on her gifts for the organization and provides human resources support to Habitat’s employees.
When asked why she chose to support Habitat over other non-profit organizations, she shared that the current housing crisis seemed to be one of the most urgent problems for Idaho.
“Growing up in Idaho, we never really thought we'd be in the housing crisis that we are,” she said. “We knew that affordable housing was always something that was needed. However, with the big housing shift here, especially in the Treasure Valley, with new economic growth, and with population growth, I think it's just a pressing need and I think it will continue to be a pressing need.”
Kimber identifies that the impact housing has on families is significant as it affects all aspects of a person’s life. From education, long-term security, food insecurity, and more, affordable housing is a whole solution to systemic problems.
“Habitat is really looking at the holistic person. So, we talk about a refugee population and how they can become more ingrained in our community. Habitat is doing that. We talk about transitioning veterans from their years of service into our community. Habitat is doing that. So, it's really this focal point of if we can give somebody affordable housing, what else can they do? It's really a point of leverage in shifting what they think they can be capable of. Does that allow them to go back to school? Does that allow them to do a job shift? Does that allow them to inspire someone else in their family? We're looking at building generational wealth. So, it's yes about the here and now, but more than that, we're changing people's trajectories of their life, not only for their own life, but for generations to come.”
With limited capacity for donating, it is important to Kimber for her dollars to make a difference in her local community. As all donations go to programs rather than organizational overhead, she says donors should feel good about giving to Habitat’s work.
Habitat’s community partnerships are also a particularly large badge of honor for Kimber. Rather than relying solely on itself, Habitat plays off community support from banking partners, hardware stores, land developers, construction groups, other nonprofit organizations, and more.
“Those that lean into us are receiving dividends as well,” she said.
Being a young professional supplies a different perspective on charitable work, making Habitat’s offerings more diversified. From a new Home Repairs Program to a larger Evening in the Garden fundraiser, fresh eyes are a critical component to Habitat’s community success.
“I feel like Habitat itself is very personal and I love that we get to kind of lean into that methodology in all that we do,” she said. “So, you're creating personal ties and personal connection. If you're donating, you know where that money goes. If you are volunteering your time, you get to feel the excitement around that. If you're volunteering your time, you also get to network. There’s personal satisfaction in that, but there's also professional satisfaction as well.”
For young professionals looking to make an actionable difference in their community by putting down local roots, Habitat is a great place to start.